Dark as Last night by Tony Birch
By: Joanna Marsh
Tony Birch is an Indigenous Australian Author who has won an array of literary awards. He writes short stories, poetry and novels. Dark as Last Night is an anthology of short stories with a telescopic focus on marginalised Australians who struggle through adversity. He draws on human connection and writes of grief, love and bravery.
The first story, the title track, hits you like a punch in the guts. The reality of domestic violence is a concept that one might choose to view from afar until Birch holds it right under your nose, and through his imagery, the smell of blood is pungent and frightening.
Then there is ‘Together’. In the simplicity of a family working through the grief of a dying loved one, there is a heart shattering rawness and truth. Birch demonstrates the complexity of emotions that anyone can experience in such a tragic time.
One thing that stands out in many of Birch’s stories are the hero older siblings. Their boldness and love are unbreakable as they protect the family that surround them. In ‘Flight’, older sister Miriam, sometimes a tyrant to her younger brother as she navigates her roles as daughter, protector and teenager, threatens her brother’s bullies with “If you ever touch my brother again, I’ll stab you in the head.” And the reader cheers at her fearlessness.